OPEN ROAD REVIEW POETRY PRIZE 2015 (Joint Runner-up)

Grandpa poached a rabbit once, before turning
vegan; that picture is still on the wall,

alongside the photo which confirms
he got Grandma as well.

Pictures don’t speak names, but memory
becomes an old man’s commotion.

Grandma probably declined to having any of
her photos put up on the wall

or nobody asked her. I didn’t.
I just wanted Grandpa and Grandma to sit

on the veranda, where loftiness of slow lives
could, perhaps, be discovered. Grandma’s chemise

had leafy sketches, of crack-opened skies –
Grandpa, probably, struggled to tell the difference

and looked up, occasionally, as if to confirm
that these cracks were not in his eyes.

If not for the rain, or the bread they had
for years broken together, they refused

to step back inside. It probably scared
them both, that their coffin-fitting clothes

seemed wrapped rather than worn. It scared
Grandpa to think, how easy it would be, to not

miss here when she would be gone. It scared
him more that it would be easier for her.

They were angry at each other for getting old, and
for having crumpled skin that read like trashed paper.

Grandpa, though, still liked to tell us stories of how
he had grown through dark years, and that Grandma

at that time, was the woman closest
to the sun – her rabbits, wet, in his shade.

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Manik Sharma has written as a journalist for The Caravan and Open Magazine, and as a literary writer for Berfrois, The Bitter Oleander, and Ruminate among other journals. He was short-listed for the RaedLeaf Poetry Prize 2014.

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